Butterball Fields Our Turkey Questions
Got any burning turkey questions? It seems that our staff is full of them. Carolina Parent Associate Editor Beth Shugg has confessed that a couple of years ago, she accidentally cooked her turkey upside down. After she got over her embarrassment, she discovered that she might be on to something.
"The turkey tasted better than ever before," she recalls. "I think it's because the meaty part (the breast) was soaking in the juices in the pan for all that time."
She wondered if cooking a turkey upside down results in a juicier, more marinated turkey breast area. I put that question to Marty Van Ness, a supervisor and trainer at Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, who said upside down cooking doesn't necessarily create a juicier more tender turkey. "Proper cooking, and not over-cooking helps with that, and using a meat thermometer," she said. Van Ness had heard of the method of cooking a turkey upside down, but she warned that turning the turkey over once it was cooked could be tricky, slippery and dangerous. Beth: Don't do it!
Carolina Parent Editor Crickett Gibbons wanted to know what's the difference in cooking time if you baked a turkey with or without the stuffing. Van Ness said cooking a turkey with stuffing adds some more cooking time, anywhere from 45 minutes to about an hour longer. "You want to make sure that the stuffing is done completely, and that's where we recommend using a meat thermometer," she said. "So if you do stuff the turkey, make sure the stuffing reaches 165 degrees, whereas the breast meat is done when it reaches 170, and the thigh is done when it reaches 180."
Another question was "How long can a turkey sit out before it needs to be refrigerated?" Van Ness said Butterball recommends that turkey be carved off the bone and placed into the refrigerator within a 2-hour window.
For my part, I wanted to find out some new ways to use leftover turkey. Among the hundreds of recipes on Butterball.com are more than 40 for using leftover turkey. Two of Van Ness family favorite leftover recipes are "Pumpkin Blackbean Turkey Chili" and Grilled Turkey Apple Cheese Sandwich, which uses tart apple and gouda cheese.
If you're wondering what's the number one question the talk-line experts get every year, it's how to safely thaw a turkey, Van Ness says. Butterball recommends either of two methods: In the refrigerator, if you have enough time, or in a sink or tub of cold water. Once thawed, the turkey can be placed in the refrigerator and stored for up to four days before cooking.
If you have any turkey-related questions, check the Butterball site, where you can click to chat with home economists, and find these links:
Happy Turkey Day!